FALMOUTH (CBS) – Health officials are taking a EEE threat seriously on Cape Cod.
“I think most people think mosquito bites are part of summer when really mosquito bites could end up giving you a disease that kills you,” said Gabrielle Sakolsky, the Entomologist and Assistant Superintendent for the Cape Cod Mosquito Control Project.
Sakolsky says EEE is officially in Falmouth and it should be taken very seriously.
“It should be taken very seriously there are mammal biting mosquitoes carrying EEE here in the town of Falmouth, people need to take precautions not to get mosquito bites,” she said. “It’s a serious disease with a 40/50 percent mortality rate. Most people who get this disease end up with chronic conditions and they don’t always get better.”
Health Agent Scott McGann also spoke with WBZ, explaining early warning signs include high fever pain and swelling in the head.
“EEE is Eastern Equine Encephalitis and there has been about 100 cases or less since 1938 so it’s rare but very potent,” McGann explained.
Five positive samples of mosquito pools were found in Falmouth and Woods Hole.
“We take the mosquitoes in. I identify the species. Put them on ice and ship them to the state lab for testing. They let me know if any of the mosquitoes have diseases in them,” Sakolsky explained.
More than 200 samples have come back positive in Massachusetts already this season.
“This is the first time I’ve ever put out a trap have it come back positive and put out other traps and have them come back positive. My superintendent has been there for 46 years and we’ve never seen this,” she said.
Since the positive results, crews have been working around the clock to knock it down.
“This has gone way beyond that now and we have crews… additional crews that are working in Falmouth even today and we are putting up additional traps to see if the diseases are in one location in Falmouth or if it’s in more locations in Falmouth,” Sakolsky said.
Curt Felix, the owner of Cape Cod Mosquito Squad, believes this season has been like nothing he’s ever seen. He thinks this is partially because of the amount of rain the area has received.
“That’s just an enormous amount of water that’s going to seek places it’s never been before so with a high water table that’s the ideal breeding habitat for mosquitoes,” Felix added.
Felix said there are things people can do to protect themselves, starting with their homes and emptying any standing water.
“There are things like clogged gutters like pails of water, even a small plastic cap from the top of the water bottle or a soda bottle. Tarps, a wheel barrel. Anything that can hold water for a couple of days can breed mosquitoes,” he said.
In downtown Falmouth, just yards away from where one positive sample was found behind town hall, some people were taking the warning seriously.
“It is serious you can get really sick from it,” said Samantha Miller who was visiting from Colorado.
“I always spray,” said Bill Gorman, visiting from Indiana.
“I need to keep my eyes out. I have a grandchild and all that coming down so I will be more aware of that,” John Ramey of West Falmouth said.
Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. there is a meeting set at the Falmouth Town Hall to discuss options. They include aerial spraying, which is set to start in both Plymouth and Bristol Counties, truck spraying and even a curfew.
“Dusk to dawn curfew, wow,” Ramey reacted.
Sakolsky’s advice in the meantime is, “People should be wearing long sleeves long pants if you’re being bit by mosquitoes go inside.”